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Ceremonies, acts of patriotism mark 11th anniversary of 9/11 attacks
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Turlock Firefighter Tony Nascimento reads a poem during a public ceremony to honor the victims of 9/11. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Eleven years ago Americans across the country watched in shock as terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, leaving over 3,000 dead. On Tuesday, Turlock remembered the victims of those attacks with public ceremonies, flags flown at half-staff and personal expressions of patriotism.

The Turlock Fire Department held two simultaneous community ceremonies at Fire Station 1 and Fire Station 3 on Tuesday morning, in an attempt to reach out to the neighbors surrounding the stations.

A bagpipe performance of “Amazing Grace” opened the Fire Station 1 ceremony, followed by a moment of silence. Paying tribute to the victims of 9/11 and recognizing the bravery of the first responders were the common themes of the event, which included a poetry reading and bell ceremony.

“It is our duty to keep their memory alive,” said Turlock Fire Chief Tim Lohman.

Chief Lohman shared his own memories of watching on television as the fire fighters rushed to save the people trapped in the Twin Towers and how he had never seen such a large steel structure collapse like it did that day.

The ceremony ended with the raising of the American flag. Fire stations were not the only buildings flying the red, white and blue on Tuesday. Many businesses and private homes displayed Old Glory at half-mast, as a tribute to the fallen.

Two local veterans, however, decided that flying the flag wasn’t enough. Cody Smith, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, and Billy Reid, a Marine vet who served in Iraq, took to the streets with their patriotism Tuesday afternoon.

The two could be seen running and cycling down Geer Road and Monte Vista Avenue between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. with the American, Army and Marine Corp flags in tow.

“A lot of people put flags on the back of their trucks, and that’s cool, but you never see anything like this,” said Smith.

As drivers passed Smith and Reid on the busy thoroughfare, many honked their horns in support, something the two vets appreciated.

“Billy started counting and we’re already up to 30,” Smith said as he and Reid waited in the crosswalk at the corner of Geer and Monte Vista.

For both Turlockers, the visual — and physical — expression of patriotism wasn’t just for the victims of 9/11, but also for those who are currently serving in the military overseas.

“I’ve lost a lot of friends over there and I think a lot of people take life for granted,” said Smith.